Brent Reaves: But what I can do is say, “God, this is Brent. Stuff’s not working the way I need it to work,” but I could talk to Him, and I learned how to communicate because that’s how my dad would do it.
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John Fuller: Well, there’s nothing like the influence of a Godly father, especially one that models how to pray for his children. That’s our topic today, and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: That’s so true, John, and our guest is Brent Reaves, who is, uh, paying tribute to his father, the founder of Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas, and it’s a family-run restaurant that has a reputation for serving up brisket with a side of Holy Spirit, (laughing) and Brent is sharing what he learned about life and faith from his dad.
John: Yeah, this is really touching, and here now is Brent Reaves speaking to a group of men at an event hosted by Wingmen Ministries on Focus on the Family.
Brent: Thank you guys for allowing me to be here today. If you don’t mind, I’d like to be able to start off with a word of prayer. Is that okay? All right. Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for this amazing group of men. I thank you, God, for what you’re doing in each of their lives. Thank you, God, for the hunger that you’ve put inside of them for you. Thank you for this amazing organization, Father God, for how they are reaching people across this world, Father God. I thank you, God, for the heart of this ministry, Father, and I pray that you continue to pour your grace, your goodness and mercy over every one of them. And I pray, Father God, that you have something that you have specifically for each one to receive and thank you for these things. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Brent: So Dad was intense. Dad was intense since I was two. Dad was always on 10, never had … you know, you know, some people have like a calm … no, D- Dad didn’t do that. 5:30 in the morning, “Hey, what’s going on? Y’all doing, okay? Hey, look here, um, I’m going to pray with you seven days,” and you could hear that from downstairs and we would all be asleep, but Dad didn’t care ’cause he’s on the phone and he pays all the bills (laughing), so you just learn how to, how to sleep over his conversations. He was an amazing, uh, father and, I tell you what, you know, I, I miss him like crazy. The man that made a difference in my life passed away, and probably the most difficult day of my life. Who thinks Superman dies? You never think Superman is going to die, but that’s something that many of you in this room maybe have already faced and, if you haven’t faced it, it’s a turning point. It’s a turning point. Some men struggle with the idea or the concept of God, and you know why? Because most of them don’t have a real relationship with their father, their natural father. So when you tell me there’s this God, this Heavenly Father, who is leading me, guiding me, and directing me and the only guy that I knew that was a father sat around the house all day, worked during the week, had some beers on the weekend, uh, that’s difficult for me to hear this whole sovereign, faithful God. I didn’t have that. I totally understood God because of the man that was my father. He showed who God was every single day, well, not every day ’cause, you know, he had some imperfections too. He, (laughs) he wasn’t Jesus by any means, you hear me, but he tried his best to live according to how the Bible wants us to live, and he always tried to make a difference and make an impact on our lives, every single day. He was very intentional in that. I want to share some things with you guys that I learned from the man, the father of my house that impacted my life. One of the things about my dad, if you know him, you guys been in Wingmen, he’s been here, he’s been speaking, what, five, five years maybe?
Audience: Way longer than that.
Brent: Longer than that?
Audience: Yeah (laughing).
Brent: This brother could pray (laughing). I mean, if you knew Dad, Dad could pray. You would not get off the phone with him without him praying for you. And what I learned was, you know what, as men, we’ve got to pray, and not just when something’s wrong, we’ve got to pray daily and continue to lift up our issues, our families, our concerns. We’ve got to pray. We got to get the weights off because, a lot of times, guys, we walk around with a lot of burdens. We walk around with a lot of weight. And, a lot of times, guys don’t want to talk about anything. We kind of just go along because, you know what, usually, nobody cares. Am I wrong? Nobody cares. Things go on in our lives every day and we take on more and more burden, but we don’t share anything, and the thing that we have to do is begin to share with God, at least someone that can take all of your burdens and then do something about it. But we don’t take the time sometimes to pray. Uh, brother to brother, brothers, we need each other. We’ve got to pray. Chad, just a few minutes ago, before, he said, “Can I pray with you before, before you speak?” Chad, you don’t know, my dad used to do that any time before I would speak, and this is the first time I’ve ever spoken, and he didn’t pray with before. So when you stepped up and you said that you don’t understand, that was him because he would not let anything happen in anyone’s life without the power of prayer with him. The one thing I thought was amazing about my dad was how he prayed. He learned how to pray from my grandfather. My grandfather was a sharecropper. He … in Daingerfield, in East Texas. My grandfather would get 80 acres together. He would get everything ready, and Dad would watch him do the same thing every year. Pop would get on his knees, and this is how he would pray. He’d say, “God, it’s Bud here. I tilled the ground, got it all plowed up. I put the seeds out. I got everything ready. The rest is yours. All of what I did means nothing if you don’t bring the rain. I need rain, God. I appreciate you; I thank you for sending the rain, and I thank you for the harvest that we’re going to get. Amen.” That’s how he learned how to pray. Changed my life because how I always had seen people pray is, “Dear auspicious heavenly … ” uh, you know, man, I don’t … hey,
Brent: I don’t even have that many vo-, words in my vocabulary.
Brent: But what I can do is say, “God, this is Brent. Stuff’s not working the way I need it to work. My wife is getting on my nerves today (laughing). Can you help her, well,
Brent: help me, help me deal with her, (laughs) you know?” But I could talk to Him, and I learned how to communicate because that’s how my dad would do it. I remember getting up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and I’d see the light on downstairs, and I was going, “Man, what in the world … who’s down there?” and I was probably about five years old. This is when I really first saw dad pray. He had a chair that he had sitting right in the middle of the room, and he would sit on his … he’d be on his knees, and he’d lay in the chair like this, and he’d just pray out loud. See, I didn’t know that the reason why we were eating so many chopped beef sandwiches every day was because dad was broke. He had decided to close the bars and the clubs and went completely bankrupt, so what we had was what we were serving at the restaurant. I was about sick of chopped beef sandwiches, but I didn’t know that that’s what we had. But he would be down in that chair, going, “God, I don’t know how we’re going to do Christmas this year. I don’t have anything. Is there any way that you can make a way for me and my family?” A few weeks later, all of a sudden, someone, I didn’t know this, but they were kind of … he was preparing us for this solemn Christmas and then, all of a sudden, Christmas morning, I wake up and there were more gifts around the tree than I had ever seen in my life, never seen this many. This is the most memorable Christmas still in my mind. I’m 42 years old and I still remember the four-wheel Tonka truck right by the tree ’cause that’s what I wanted, but I knew there was no way I was going to get it because we were struggling. Somehow, years later, I found out that someone had given him $5,000 and said, “Buy everything you can for your kids,” out of the blue. But you know how that happened? Prayer, prayer. He taught me how to pray. Another thing he taught me how to do was build relationships. Relationships are everything. Sometimes you may not have a certain, uh, connection or there’s something you specifically need, and you can’t get it anywhere else, but maybe, if you know somebody, maybe something can happen for you. Dad knew that. He knew the power of building relationships. And he built relationships not necessarily for something, but because, because he knew he had something to offer, and he knew that someone else had something to offer him. Why? Because the power of God is in every one of us. And the thing today that you may be lacking, Tim may have, but if you never talk to each other and if you never have that connection and if you never reach out and see, “Bill, how’s everything going, Bill? How are you doing today, Bill?” If I don’t do that, I don’t reach out to you and I don’t build a relationship, then I don’t find out what’s going on in your life and then I’m walking around aimlessly like I don’t care, and what I’m doing is I’m missing opportunities to make an impact in somebody else’s life.
John: Well, you’re listening to Brent Reaves on Focus on the Family, and we have his entire presentation on CD and we’re making that CD available for a gift of any amount when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. Or you can donate and request that CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s return now to more from Brent Reaves.
Brent: One of the other things that Dad taught me, this is a rough one, he taught me how to be truthfully like raw, tell the raw truth. That’s a hard one. That, that’s a hard one for me because I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, but Dad did not have that in him. He didn’t care. I remember people used to get him to do marriage counseling for them and I’d think to myself, “Why did you ask him to give you marriage counseling?
Brent: Is it because he wasn’t, you know, skilled and have the wisdom? He was married 43 years. Yeah, he’d give you all the advice in the world, but why did you want to talk to him? He’s going to be brutally honest.” I remember hearing a time or two where he’d have a little bit of a session going with someone back in that meeting room at the restaurant and, uh, he’s talking to the brother and the brother was talking about all the stuff that was going on in his life and what’s happening in his relationship and so Dad just sat there and he listened to him, “Okay, that’s good. Okay. Okay.” He looked at the guy and he said, “You, you, son, you, you know what your problem is, don’t you?” And the guys goes, “Uh, well, uh, Smokey, I don’t, I don’t, uh, I don’t know, Smokey. I don’t know.” And Dad looks at him and he says, “Well, you’re stupid.
Brent: You’re stupid. You say stupid stuff. You do stupid stuff. You say stupid stuff to your wife. You’re stupid
Brent: And the guy was like … (laughing) That’s unorthodox. He’s like, “I’m stupid? Oh, Smokey, I’m stupid, Smokey (laughing). I’m stupid.” He said, “Listen, man, go home, wash the dishes, cook for your wife, get her some flowers, and stop being stupid (laughing).” “All right, Smokey, I got it. No problem.” But Dad could do that. He could do that. A friend of mine had a restaurant and he goes into this restaurant, just grand opening, great place, comes in there, Dad tastes the food. Dad sits down. He comes back the next day and the guy says, “Uh, Mr. Smokey, how’d you like the food?” He said, Man, wasn’t that good, brother, wasn’t that good (laughing). You need to put more pepper in your Caesar salad because it’s nasty.
Brent: So, Dad dies, uh, August 24th, that guy comes to the restaurant to see me and he’s like crying and I’m going, “Man, what’s going on? Are you okay?” He is crying. Said, “Brother, what’s happening?” He said, “Man, your dad just … he was the only one that told me the truth, man,” and I was like, “Man.” He’s like, “He said my Caesar salad was nasty.” I was like …
Brent: He taught me the value of telling the truth. We’ve got to be able to be honest with each other. We’ve got to be able to tell each other the truth. Sometimes it’s hard, and people ask you for advice, they really don’t want it, but if they ask you, guess what? Tell them the truth. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? They don’t come back to you with anything they want to a- … no, no more questions
Brent: because one thing I know, if I ask Mark, Mark’s going to tell me the truth, right? But iron sharpens iron, iron sharpens iron, and the truth is sharpening for you. When people go around and we, we, “Oh, well, everything is okay,” and this and that, you know, nobody … there’s no integrity in that. The one thing that you’ll know about Smokey, about myself, I’m going to tell you the truth, so if you really want to know, ask me. And I always res- … I’ll ask my team members at the, our restaurant, I say, tell me what you think, okay, don’t get too carried away, but tell me,
Brent: tell me a little bit of what you think (laughs). A couple other things that he taught me, Dad was great about this, he didn’t judge you. He didn’t judge you. And you know why he didn’t judge you? He needed too much grace himself. And, as men, we need grace, but you know what we also need to do? We need to give grace. We need to give grace. We’re so hard on each other at times. We’re hard on each other. We don’t give guys space. Well, find out a guy messed up, a guy made a mistake, guy went, fell off the wagon. He was sober for 10 years and, and messed up, “Man, how did you do that?” No, brother, it’s all right. It’s all right. Start over again. Start over. If you messed up just that one time in 10 years, how good is that compared to how you were before the 10? Figure out a way to give grace. One of the things that Dad would tell me was, he’d say, “Son, I’m not going to be the Holy Spirit in your life.” That changed … that, that hit me, and it showed me how I needed to talk to others and how I needed to share with others. I cannot be the Holy Spirit in somebody else’s life. I can encourage you, I can correct, but I’m not going to judge you. Too many of us do that and then we push guys away and then the, the safe space is no longer safe because a guy feels he can’t come in and be honest because he’s going to be judged. That’s why you see a lot of folks not going to church at times because they feel like they’re going to be judged. We’ve got to give people space. We have to give people room for God to do His thing in their lives. The best thing we could do is continue to be the example that we saw Christ be and we, we continue to be that same example and hope that we can impact others, not judge them, but be an example. Give each other grace. I think the most powerful thing about dad that I went through this week that, that his lessons and his example hit me so much was this year, dad trusted God. You can’t pray like that and expect something if you don’t trust Him. You got to trust Him though. Sometimes there are things that happen in our lives that are so tragic or destructive or damaging that there is no way in our minds that we can see how we’re going to get out of that. Any of you guys been through those situations? Yeah. Has God brought you out? Has He brought you out in a way that like h- … there’s no way that this could have ever happened, there’s no way I could have even gotten out of this? This year, we had … or 2017, we’re in a record-breaking year for Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que and I get a phone call in the middle … about 5:00. It tells me we’re … that the restaurant is on fire. And it’s not good. That’s not good. So I get there. They blocked Mockingbird off. That’s a bad sign. Bill, you have a firefighter sh- … uh, you know that’s a bad sign. If they block a main street off and you can’t get there and it’s your place, that’s a bad sign. So I finally talk one of the firefighters into letting me in there and the guy … I get there and I say, “How bad is it?” He says, “Well, uh, they lost everything. Whoever … whew, man, it’s terrible. It’s horrible.” And I’m thinking, “Golly, can you leave me any hope, brother, like just a little bit?” It’s like, “Man.” So I get there and three, three-alarm fire, firetrucks, I mean, they’re everywhere. Get through that whole situation of being devastated and, three days later, the insurance company shows up and they look, they go, “Oh, man, this is a total loss here.” I’m like, “Does anybody have any compassion at all or is this just how you do it nowadays, you know?” So I get through it, we, we finish up, and the guy says, “Well, it looks like you got about $56,000 on your policy.” It’s like, “$56,000? This is a total loss.” He’s like, “Yeah. Well, looks like half your policy was negated by a clause in your lease.” Our $300,000 policy was cut down to $56,000. Dad said, “Oh, wow. Whew. That’s rough, son (laughs),” like I think he was like, “I’m glad I gave you the business,” at that point, you know (laughing). “You get to trust God, son. You get to trust him right now.” And you know what? He sat back and he said, “I want you to handle this.” Have you ever read a book called The Circle Maker? If you ever find that book, that’s one of the most powerful books I ever read. The Circle Maker book, he talks about putting your requests down and circling them and praying a circle and a protection over what it is that you ask for or that you believe in God for, and you circle it. And, and what I realized through that process was I was giving over my cares and issues and worries over that circle and giving it to God. So I went through this process, and I was … there were days where I couldn’t eat, or my stomach was in knots because we have 20 different employees that are not working. As the weeks ke-, took, uh, kept going, I started to find out that there were other things that we had where the insurance company started to change their mind. By the end of the time, I’m praying, I’m believing God, my brother and I are praying, Dad’s praying. We come back and, at the end of last year, the insurance company sends the check for the full amount…
Brent: plus some. That was God. There’s no way in the world that we could’ve gotten out of that without trust in God, but we couldn’t have done it had we not, had I not seen that example of trusting God with him. And one of the things that Dad would do is he would just stand firm in what he was believing for with God because what he, how he did was he would pray the Word back to God. He would pray, he would say, “You said in your Word, look, if we, if we seek, then we will find; if you knock, the door will be opened; if you ask, you will receive,” and he would speak the Word back to God. And I tell you what, God performs His own Word all the time, but we have to be put in a position sometimes where we have to trust him. Those five things, as I look at those things, I realize that, through my father, God showed me Himself and, as a mere man, if I saw those qualities, how much more is our Heavenly Father? So those who don’t have a father, never had a father, there is one that’s greater than any earthly man here, and that Heavenly Father is wanting to do for you everything that you need. He wants to take you from one level to the next and He wants to change your life, uh, be- because He wants other people’s lives to change by watching you. You guys have been doing an amazing job here because you got a man in his seventies to drive from Oak Cliff to Grapevine. You must be doing something special. I appreciate you guys and thank you for the opportunity to be able to speak to you today.
John: Our thanks to Wingmen Ministries for providing us with this message from restaurateur Brent Reaves of Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas.
Jim: John, this was a great reminder of the influence that fathers have in the lives of their children. And, let me just add, for the single moms out there, we know that you would love to have a Godly man provide that kind of mentoring to your kids if their dad is not in the picture or is not a believer and my heart goes out to you. Let me encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to provide that person for your children. And, if you need more help, please give us a call and let us be there for you.
John: Let me remind you, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459.
Jim: And as we reach out to hurting families, we also need your support. We are a nonprofit ministry, and we depend on your donations to keep everything going, so please consider giving to Focus on the Family today. And, when you make a donation of any amount, we’ll send you the CD of this message from Brent Reaves and that’ll be our way of saying thank you for joining us in ministry.
John: And you can reach us when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or donate online and request your CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time, Lisa-Jo Baker joins us to share what she’s learned about life as a seasoned wife and a mother of three teenagers.
Lisa-Jo Baker: The love stories that are the beginnings, they, they’re fleeting, they’re gone in like a heartbeat, but then you’ve got 50 years. Where are the love stories in the trenches? And so, for me, it has really been having eyes to see what love looks like there.
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